Friday, December 11, 2015

Movie Review: Fred Claus

Fred Claus
Warner Bros., Silver Pictures, David Dobkin Productions, Jessie Nelson Productions, USA, 2007.
Fred Claus title
Nicholas 'Santa' Claus has older brother Fred. When they are kids Nick is always better than Fred and their parents (Kathy Bates and Trevor Peacock) pamper Nick. As Nick knocks down a fir tree where Fred's pet bird lives that is the last straw. Nick (Paul Giamatti) grows up to be Santa Claus. Fred (Vince Vaughn) becomes bitter and he hates Christmas.
Vince Vaughn
Paul Giamatti
Hundreds of years later in the modern day (apparently members of the Claus family do not age).  Fred has almost forgotten girlfriend Wanda's (Rachel Weisz) birthday. Fred is planning to open a casino but he lacks money so he tries swindle some money as a fake fundraiser. Angry Salvation Army Santas beat him up. Fred calls from the slammer to Nick to get bail money. Wanda leaves Nick for ignoring her birthday.
Rachel Weisz
There is quite a big stylistic mismatch with the beginning. Fred seems to be too nice guy despite being bitter towards Nick for centuries. Sure he is slightly cynical but you would expect him to be more like Grinch. Fred even takes care of orphaned kid Slam (Bobb'e J. Thompson).

Nick is in stressful situation. The production of toys is dropping and efficiency expert is coming for inspection. Nick promises money if Fred comes to visit North Pole and help with the Christmas rush. Santa sends Willie the Elf (John Michael Higgins) and sleigh to pick up Fred. Willie has crush on Santa's Little Helper Charlene (Elizabeth Banks). 
Vince Vaughn and John Michael Higgins
Willie introduces North Pole
Elizabeth Banks
Fred must sort kids to naughty or nice. Listening same Christmas carols over and over makes him lose his nerve (I feel you bro). Maybe listening some remixed Elvis-songs helps. 
Kevin Spacey
Recession has hit even the mythic Holiday characters. Efficiency expert Lex Luthor Clyde Northcutt (Kevin Spacey) threatens to shut down Santa's workshop. Everything starts to go wrong. Slam gets on the naughty list. Northcutt fires Santa and Christmas is cancelled. Game Over.


Fred meets Bill Clinton's brother Roger Jr. in group therapy. Fred finds his brotherly love again and saves Christmas. Happy Ending!

The story is quite traditional "jaded guy finds the Christmas spirit." This has something for whole family, goofy slapstick for kids and some holiday family / business drama for adults but the different styles do not quite work. And there are ninja-elves. However there is long brother therapy session that is fun for adults but probably bores kids.
The actors are good but underused and Vaughn seems to be toned down as a family-friendly version of himself. Considering the setting there could have been more anarchistic approach. Now the film is harmless family entertainment with sentimental lesson about values of Christmas. Some cameos are included: rapper Ludacris appears as tiny DJ Donnie. Frank Stallone, Roger Clinton Jr. (Bill's brother) and Stephen Baldwin appear as themselves.

Rating: Average

Starring: Vince Vaughn, Paul Giamatti, John Michael Higgins, Miranda Richardson, Rachel Weisz, Kathy Bates, Trevor Peacock, Ludacris (as Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges), Elizabeth Banks, Jeremy Swift, Elizabeth Berrington, Kevin Spacey, Rio Hackford, Bobb'e J. Thompson, Allan Corduner, Jordon Hull, Liam James, Theo Stevenson, Allison Sparrow, Fred Zimmerman, Danny McCarthy, Keith Kupferer, Craig J. Harris, Peter McCabe, Jonathan Cullen, Wesley Chu, Claudia Michelle Wallace, Guy Massey, Gabriel Pimentel, Hassan Chikhaoui, Vitalie Babara, Morgane Monjauze, Justin Butler, Angela Curran, Celia Henebury, Justin McEwen, Tyler Kelley, Dylan Minnette, Anne White, Patrick Zielinski, William Dick, Frank Stallone, Roger Clinton, Stephen Baldwin, Jean-Yves Tual ,Jorge Rodero, Michael Mbhele, Burn Gorman, Orlando Seale, Charlie Condou, Melody Hollis, Mike Bacarella, Bert Matias, Rusty Goffe, Peter Bonner + other actors playing elves,  singers and etc.
Director: David Dobkin

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